“I’m sorry, but I am in awe of my own film,” jokes Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Gangubai Kathiawadi
Written by Swaati on February 23, 2022
Sanjay Leela Bhansali feels Gangubai Kathiawadi is his best film to date. “It comes straight from my heart. I am so much more in control of my craft now than I was when I started off. I’ve improved as a human being and as a filmmaker. I think I’ve become more compassionate.”
Gangubai Kathiawadi is also Bhansali’s most personal film. “It’s a tribute to my growing years. I spent the first 30 years of my living in just one lane away from Kamathipura. I gave my all to this film. Every flavour, colour and texture that I remembered from my childhood has gone into this film. I remember in my childhood chawl the walls were colourless. And yet that colourless palate is embedded in my mind. Every utensil in our kitchen, every visual from my childhood…like the clothes hanging after washing from the second floor which would flap on the first floor, the stench of the gutters are all alive in my imagination. I rate this as my most personal film.”
Gangubai Kathiawadi is a dream that Bhansali has nurtured for eight years. “I wanted to make this film before Ram Leela. I’ve spoken to Gangubai’s soul. I’ve had long conversations with her in my mind. I understood her suffering, anger, joys and sorrow. I knew why she needed to get up and dance. I had to connect to the soul of this amazing woman. I think I did.”
Now that the release is just days away Bhansali is nervous and anxious. “It is so important for the Indian audience to watch films in cinemas. Movie theatres have opened up fully after two years. It is such a joyous moment not only for me but for the Hindi film industry to be able to return to movie theatres after audiences being stifled at home. I think it’s a blessing, and not even in disguise.”
The epic filmmaker whose last release Padmaavat was a spectacular success is hoping to see the audience return to theatres for his film. “Now we are hoping that the world will celebrate the life of this wonderful woman who reluctantly became the voice of the women in Kamathipura. Gangubai was a messiah to the women of Kamathipura. She was ravaged by life. But she never stopped fighting and caring for the girls in Kamathipura brothels. This is a woman who is an unsung hero. I want her name to be mentioned in the history of Indian cinema.